Summer has sped by with the haste that those of us over 60 know well. What used to take months now seems to take only minutes and bang here we are in the fall.
I am readying for my return to Kenya. I am finally 85%mobile, though I wish it were better. Maybe the extra 15% will return when I am back in Kisumu. After all they kind of owe me that.
I realized that it has been 10 years since I first stepped onto African Shores. 10 years since I gave my heart to a continent I swore I would never visit. My heart pumps a little faster as I think of my return. Preparations now are so easy, compared to the first few times. I will purchase the last of the underpants for the girls tomorrow and start packing after Labor Day.
What makes me sad, though, is that nothing has changed in the 10 years since I started going to Kenya. Today, twitter abounded with stories of pre-election violence. Yes it’s in the northeast part of Kenya, not down in western where I work., yet it wouldn’t take much for it to cross the country like the Ebola a few miles from our project.
I am not a famous sociologist (nor do I play one on T.V). It seems to me, though, that the biggest part of the graft, violence, and corruption comes from the tribal mentality of the people. The people I work with will deny it, but I hear them talk. I know their distrust for another tribe. They don’t think I understand as much Swahili as I do. I’m just the white girl sitting quietly in the car.
I know that a couple tribes got all the good land, and that others have to eke out a living in almost impossible circumstances. I know that the hatred runs so deep, that no matter where your tribal lands are, your machete is close by and ready to hack someone to death because of some insult. I know that Kenya will blow again during this election.
I often tell clients that it’s important to know what you know. You don’t have to like what you know, but you need to know what you know. So I’m going in September and not in the winter at the beginning of the school year. I don’t want to see it again and I pray I don’t get frantic emails or calls from friends stuck hiding in the maize fields trying to stay alive while swarms of enemy tribes hunt them down.
So I return for my 10th anniversary. I look forward to seeing my friends, and the children and the hoped for progress. Unfortunately I know what I know, and in 6 months some of them may not be alive because of tribal hatred.
I wrote this 2 days ago and this appeared in today’s paper “The Nation:. http://www.nation.co.ke/News/I+saw+gang+kill+my+11+children+and+wife/-/1056/1486700/-/bmlsj0/-/index.html